On a painfully cold Saturday 4th February, five LUC members travelled to Leicester to oppose the racist knuckle-draggers of the EDL.
Upon arriving, we met up with members of the Leicester Solidarity Group (LSG), Leicester Anarchist Federation (Leics AF) and other militant anti-fascists, who we had been coordinating with in the weeks beforehand.
Unfortunately due to ridiculously heavy policing, UAF could not make good their promise to defy police orders and assemble by the Clock Tower, which in turn meant it was impossible for any other anti-fascists to do the same. UAF ended up getting kettled nearby, and so the decision was made to avoid the city centre (which had been crawling with police since before our arrival) and instead make our way to St. Matthews, an area with a high Somali population which had been identified as a potential target for the EDL.
Once there, we stood alongside members of the local community to defend the area from any potential EDL invasion, as well as being bothered by some local plod who weren’t very subtle about trying to get information out of us about who we were, where we were from, etc.
As the day went on, word got out that the EDL march was passing nearby. Those of us at St. Matthews quickly tried to make our way towards the city centre to confront them, but were very quickly cut off by police, who imposed a section 60 and threatened to arrest anyone covering their faces (despite the Arctic temperatures meaning face-coverings were virtually essential).
Eventually it was decided that due to the ludicrous police operation in place across the whole city, it would be best to stay in St. Matthews in case the EDL went on the rampage after their march (which is usually the case). In the end, they didn’t, and after their march and a short rally got straight back on their coaches and left.
All in all, it was a fairly uneventful day. The insane number of police meant no one could go anywhere without a barrage of questions from suspicious bizzies.
However, the day was certainly not wasted. We had a great time standing alongside the community of St. Matthews against the threat of the far-right, and the opportunity to network with fellow anarchists and anti-fascists in Leicester made the trip worthwhile. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank LSG, Leics AF and other anti-fascists for arranging everything and ensuring our safety on the day, and we look forward to continuing to coordinate with them in the future!
If the day has taught us anything, it has reinforced our view that we can’t rely on the state to fight the far-right. Anything the police do to the EDL, they can do to us, and it is vitally important that resistance to fascism comes from grassroots community organisation, not left in the hands of the oppressive state and it’s equally oppressive police force.
Leicester Solidarity Group report: http://leicestershiresg.blogspot.com/2012/02/report-4th-feb-edl-visit-to-leicester.html
Leicester Anarchist Federation report: http://leicesteraf.blogspot.com/2012/02/standing-against-edl.html